Saturday, October 10, 2015

Man Down

Been procrastinating on writing this post, because it's still a little painful to think about. But at least now I have a plan.


On Wednesday night, I tipped over the bike on a rough road, and hurt my foot badly enough that I couldn't walk. Here's how it happened.

I left Bahia a little later than I originally planned... though not much later than I honestly expected, given the amount of tequila and beers I drank the night before. While I did wake up and take pictures at sunrise, I went back to sleep for a bit before I actually got moving and packed. Then headed into town and used internet for while. Then stopped pretty early on for some food. So I wasn't moving too quickly, and decided that I'd stick to San Ignacio as a destination for the night, even though the guys I was with were heading to Santa Rosalia or further.

The river coming into San Ignacio. Beautiful after so much desert riding.

I made it to San Ignacio with a few hours before dark, so I rode around town for a bit, and then decided to head out to the Laguna. I had looked at how far it was, and it was a do-able ride, but still a little on the long side. However, as I was getting to the point where I thought I was almost there, there was a detour sign... the paved road was closed down, and you had to go to a one lane dirt road. Well, I'm almost there, might as well.

I headed down the dirt road for quite a ways - a good 20 minutes at least - before it turned into a very fine silt about 3-5 inches deep on most of the road. Needless to say... it was a little squirrely riding there, and after not too long going through there, I hit a soft patch and went down.

The not-so-bad bike down of the day.

The benefit of 5 inches of silt is a soft landing though, and I came down fine, just a little pissed off. I tried lifting the bike back up, but with no leverage on the silt to dig the tires into, it was a little rough. After unstrapping a few of the heavy things from the bike I was able to get it back up and pull a little forward to some more solid ground to load everything back on.

Not long after, I came across a car going the other direction. I asked them how far it was to the Laguna... and he said an hour, at least. I expected to have already been there, and it was starting to get late. An hour there and an hour back, plus the hour I'd already traveled - I'd be coming back in the dark, which I did NOT want to do. So I put the bike on the kickstand, popped open a bag of chips and some water, and turned around and headed back as soon as I'd had enough.

The trip back through silt land was uneventful, though just before that there was a pretty steep hill covered in large rocks that was more than a little scary to go down (had been scary on the way up too, but up always feels a bit less scary than down to me). Got back to paved road, and made my way back into town.

As I came back into town, there was a section of rocky back roads that I had to go through on the outskirts. Not nearly as bad as any of the stuff I'd done back on the way to the Laguna, but still a little sketchy.

Suddenly, my tire hit a rock weird and slid a bit, and the bike started to tip. I put my foot out to catch it, but due to the slant of the road and a big rock that I stepped on as I went for it, my foot couldn't get traction...

...and it slipped under the bike as the bike went down. And bent my ankle up between the bike and the rock, pushing my toe up towards my shin.

I yelled, and struggled for a few seconds before I was able to get my foot out from under the bike. And then I just sat there. I could feel the adrenaline start rushing through my system, could feel it numb the pain and make me want to take action. I (stupidly) tried to stand up... no luck. The foot gave out almost immediately. I tried standing on one foot flamingo-style and tipping the bike up... not even close to possible, the thing's heavy enough that I have trouble with both feet on solid ground. So I sat down in the road and tried to think. Turns out that thinking rationally is a bit on the difficult side when you've got adrenaline pumping your brain up to a few thousand miles per hour.

Eventually (it felt like a long time, but was probably only a minute or two), a car came down the road with a family in it, and they stopped to help. They helped me get the bike up, and evaluated my foot a little bit. Eventually, the neighbors from the house just down the hill came over, and brought some muscle pain gel and helped out a bit. They were able to help me move my stuff out of the road and down into their driveway, and one of the guys from the original car was able to move my bike over that way too.

After about 10 or 15 minutes of massaging the tendons, rubbing gel in, and Ibuprofen starting to kick in, I was able to put a tiny bit of weight on my foot. So, I hopped back on the bike to head to a hotel, because that seemed like a great idea (adrenaline, right?). I was able to make it there just fine (luckily) and then hobbled my way into the office to get a room and rest for the night. I paid a guy outside the hotel a few bucks to go get me a bag of ice so I could ice the ankle overnight.

In the morning I woke up and hobbled on my swollen ankle to the health center down the road. The doctor came in and took a look, and decided it wasn't broken, but was a pretty bad sprain. He had the nurses start putting together a plaster setup to keep it stable, and told me to give it 4-5 days with that on before going anywhere.

During the day I decided to search for a cheaper hotel, and I did find one owned by a family - I even stayed there one night, but then moved back because "we have internet" actually meant "the hot dog street my son owns down the street has internet which you can't access in your room." I'd normally feel bad about placing so much value on internet while traveling - honestly, I can wander around and explore and work on my Spanish normally - but when I can't walk, and I have no internet to download new books on kindle or get Duolingo lessons.. I get a bit restless. But I am still walking over to their hotel every night (quarter mile, about 20 minute walk for me) to just hang out and talk and practice my Spanish.

87 and still running a hotel, with 4 of his 10 children all living right nearby.
Part of why I wanted the internet so badly is because it's hard for me to not sit and think of all the things I could have done differently. There's the dumb things, like "don't go down that road" which I couldn't possibly have known would lead to something like this. But there's the things that, really, I should have done better. Things like... spending more time practicing on this bike to get used to it. Spending any time at all practicing off-road on this bike. Not compromising on my motorcycle boots because I didn't want to pack another pair of shoes. There's a lot of lessons I learned from this, and hopefully I can keep them with me and not forget them as soon as I'm better.

So anyway, here I am in San Ignacio still. I got in Wednesday night, it's now Saturday morning, and I'll be here at least until Monday morning. It's not so bad, there are some beautiful things to see here, but I'm starting to get a bit restless already. On the plus side, it appears (so far) like the trip isn't ended, just delayed a bit.

A good sunset the other night.

I left my hammock at the hotel with no internet for when I go back and hang out.

1 comment:

  1. hammock looks awesome, although your two feet look so different..

    Yongxin from a different world :)